Thursday, June 16, 2011

Czech Students

June 16, 2011

Today was the last day with my Thursday conversation class.  All week, I have been saying good-bye to many of my classes.  Next week, most of my students are gone on "class trips" so this is the last week of actual teaching/instruction.  The final week of school will have a different schedule, since there are only 4 days the final week of June 27-30 so this week was the last time that we would be together as a class.

Pavlina and Iveta
I am definitely not ready in this blog to reflect on my year of teaching.  I need some more time to process all that has happened, but I can say that it has been a life changing experience.  It has been "real" as we say back in America.  For some students, it has been "real"ly amazing...some students have been "real" irritating, but that is the same even in America.

Andrea, Me, Tereza, Tina, Martina
Today, like I said was my last conversation class with my Thursday group.  We finished a video in class, had a wonderful conversation and then I treated them to some ice cream in the town square.  Like 99% of my students, these kids are so wonderful.  It has been an honor to be their teacher and watch their English and confidence in speaking English grow!  I know that I have made life long connections and these students have definitely had a positive impact on me, as I hope I have had on them.  So here are some of the pictures that we took today during our last conversation class.

Jitka...try NOT to laugh...impossible

Karolina, Martina, Tereza, Tina, Andrea

Me and the gang

Donika, Jitka, Eli, Lenka, and Steve

Czech Tattoo

the designed drawn onto my foot
I knew that I wanted to get a tattoo at the end of this year to remember my Fulbright experience and remember my love of the Czech Republic.  Since of the beginning of the year, I had asked a couple of friends if they could sketch me some ideas because I am not an artist.  Unfortunately everyone was so busy, so I was left to my own devices.  Since this tattoo would be going on my body permanently, I wanted to make sure that I found a symbol of the Czech Republic that I would want to have on my body, I love the Czech Republic, but there aren't many symbols from here that I wanted inked into my body.  There are plenty of castles, goblets, lions, eagles, etc but those just don't fit my style....

me holding REAL still
When I first arrived in the Czech Republic, one of the first places I visited was Cesky Krumlov.  While there I learned that there was a dynasty that was loved by the Czech people...the Rozumberk Dynasty.  This dynasty had a symbol of a rose...which has become to be known as the Rozumberk Rose (a symbol for the Czech Republic).  PERFECT!!!!!!!!

Once I had found my symbol...I had to do the drawing...ugh....I spent DAYS/HOURS drawing different designs.  I wanted to incorporate my personal symbol, the moon and stars, with the Czech Rose to show how my two lives have merged.  Thank goodness for technology because I was able to take photos of my drawings and send them via email to some friends to get their opinions.

me and Viki
After 12 drawings and many opinions from close friends, I finally decided on the design I wanted. Now it was time to book the appointment.  Since I don't speak fluent Czech, a colleague of mine, called a tattoo artist that Katerina recommended, Viki (his nickname) to get me a consultation for the next day.  The next day, my good friend Iva came with me to the consultation to talk to him about the design and schedule an appointment.  The soonest appointment was for 1 month later, June 7, 2011.  Iva and I joked when we were leaving his studio that we didn't need to actually smoke a cigarette because our clothes had done all the smoking for us.  (they we made sure to wear our worst clothes for the appointment)

The count down was on....

I think you can see the pain on my
Finally June 7th arrived.  At 2:15 she and I walked over to Viki's studio for my appointment.  Viki is a SUPER nice guy.  Iva was my translator and support for my appointment.  I got my tattoo on the foot which is apparently the 2nd most PAINFUL place to get a tattoo (next to the head)...I knew it was going to be painful, but I wasn't completely prepared for the excruciating pain that was about to come.  Trooper that I am, I didn't cry once, only said a few swear words in my mind, and cringed in extreme pain regularly.  Even Viki said that I was doing a good job keeping my foot still...well DUH...I figured it I moved it, he would draw some random line that would be there forever...I knew that I had to keep my foot as still as possible.

finished...didn't care what my hair
looked like at this point
After one hour and 45 minutes, the tattoo was finished and I was VERY happy with it.  Viki does absolutely AMAZING work.  I even found out that Viki was the first person to do tattoos in the Czech Republic.  During communism tattoos were illegal so Viki started doing them illegally in underground shops.  Finally after the revolution he began doing them legally.  He has the reputation for being the best tattoo artist in the Czech Republic and luckily for me, he lives in Tabor.  People from all over the world have come to him to do their tattoos.  The USA even did a profile on him in some tattoo magazines.  I have to say it is pretty awesome to get a tattoo that commemoratives my time and love of the Czech Republic but it is even cooler that the "best" tattoo artist in the Czech Republic did it for me!!!!  And to top it ALLLLLLL off...I designed it MYSELF!!!!
Final product...Czech Rozumberk Rose in the center
with a moon and star at each end

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Top 10

I was asked to give me Top Ten experiences/memories so far in this Fulbright experience they are:

Ms. Dykstra’s Top 10
1.  Café Mocha.  My favorite café to go get ice cream and coffee
2.  Katerina.  I am so lucky to be doing this exchange with her
3.  Lisbon.  Favorite city I have visited so far
4. Dolomities.  Favorite place to ski
5. Czech Language.  I am starting to be able to speak a new language
6. Small class sizes.  I only have about 15 students in each class
7. Tabor Meetings.  Town festival
8.  Writing my blog.  It is great to share all my experiences
9.  Facebook.  Being able to keep in contact with friends/family from home.
10.  My mom. For all her support through out this process